Check my blog each Wednesday for a children’s message idea for the Narrative Lectionary readings for the following Sunday, brought to you by my husband (a pastor and elementary teacher) and me.
This week’s reading includes 2 stories: The Good Samaritan and the story of Mary and Martha. I’d suggest focusing on one of them for a children’s message.
The Good Samaritan story is all about help from unexpected places. It’s tactile, physical help: The Good Samaritan uses his own hands to care for the injured man’s body, bandaging his wounds and pouring oil on his sores. He then brings him to an inn and stays with him overnight; I imagine The Good Samaritan tucking the man’s body into bed and sitting vigil by him until dawn, comforting him and changing dressings as necessary. It’s care taking at its most earthy and involves helping with someone’s basic needs using your own body.
This would be a good week to lift up the work of Thistle Farms, a residential program for women who are survivors of trafficking, addiction, and prostitution. Women whose bodies have been violated and hurt are given a safe space to heal. Current and graduate residents are employed in its social enterprise, which provides natural bath and body products for purchase. Women who have known bodily suffering find life and work for a new future by providing products that care for and heal others’ bodies. I can vouch for their products, as I mixed their Exodus Oil with the ashes for worship yesterday.
Or, if your congregation has a history of supporting refugee resettlement, this would be a good week to share stories about people and families your congregation has helped. Is there someone involved with this ministry who would be willing to share? How did this ministry change the lives of people they supported? How was your congregation changed by this experience? What did they learn?
This is also a fun week to encourage random acts of kindness (RAKs). Have the kids come up with random acts of kindness they can do throughout the week to surprise others with help. Have the congregation participate too. They can report back next Sunday!
The story of Mary and Martha provides the opportunity to talk about Sabbath. Kids’ lives are often full and busy, which can be wonderful, but can also leave little time for Sabbath. Sabbath is not simply rest; it’s rejuvenation. Mary set down her tasks in order to listen to Jesus. When do we take the time to do this in our own lives?
A fun activity for this story is creating a Sabbath basket. Write down simple ideas for Sabbath for the next week:
Pray for 5 minutes, take a walk and pay attention to the sounds you hear, lay down and pay attention to your breathing, listen to a Christian radio station/favorite Christian song, read the words of a favorite hymn, etc.
Put these ideas into a basket and pass it around the worship space, having both kids and adults take one. Ask them to do their Sabbath activity sometime during the next week. Rather than giving them more tasks to do, you’re giving them homework to rest and refresh!
Alternatively, you could hand out blank sheets of paper and have people come up with their own Sabbath activity. What kinds of activities do they find uplifting and rejuvenating? How could they incorporate them into their daily lives this week?